Watching foreign films is like international travel. You see things you’ve never seen, are forced to think in completely different ways and often step away thinking that, despite the distinctions, people are more alike than they are different.
The Department of Foreign Languages at UNR offers its Hispanic and International film series to armchair travelers twice a week. Guillermo Meza, a native of Chile and a UNR Spanish teacher for the past 18 years, coordinates the series. The Hispanic series runs every Tuesday with Mango Yellow showing Feb. 14. The International series is every Thursday; Boycott shows tonight. All films are free and held in the Getchell Library at UNR at 6 p.m.
When did this series begin and why?
More than 10 years ago. We had an agreement between the foreign language department and Getchell Library. At that time, the library didn’t have many movies from other countries. … Now we have 2,500 DVDs from different countries. Generally, we don’t do the commercial movies—we do movies [that are] difficult to find or … something related to a social or cultural situation. We offer 48 movies each year, 24 each semester.
Why are movies a good way to learn about a culture or language?
Sometimes movies have social and cultural references to the past, sometimes the future, sometimes they show the conflict of reality. The people begin to give some value to a different society. I think it’s a source to teach and to learn.
Tell me about the upcoming films.
Boycott is about one situation that happened in the United States [centering on Rosa Parks’ refusal to get off the bus]. It’s about what people find to fight together to avoid problems in society. … In general, these movies are very necessary to open the eyes of the people about what’s happening in life. The other, Mango Yellow, is a movie from Brazil about the economic crises and the situation in the street in a city by the name of Recife.
What do you think these films offer that Hollywood doesn’t?
I believe [Hollywood] is offering some very interesting movies that puts to the minds of the people a more critical point of view about the situation of society—like the last two movies of George Clooney. It’s the same with Robert Redford and his Sundance movies. Something very interesting is the movie about Johnny Cash … about one very interesting person in this society.
So you think Hollywood is getting better?
In some ways, but some people like other kinds of movies. Movies about society, the problems, confusion is not always something funny … But if the movie makes you think about the problems, the society, the future, what you can do to change the ways of life, that is very, very important.
What’s your favorite movie?
That’s a big question for me. [Recently], I liked The Motorcycle Diaries because of the political connection with [Che] Guevara. The people see one side to Guevara, but he represents a young person beginning to discover the world and beginning to take a position in the world.
Do you have a favorite from the past?
Let me see … One very interesting movie is in connection with the situation to the black people in the United States … What is it? I don’t know the English name, but it’s “Lo que el viento se llevo.”
Gone with the Wind?
Yes. I believe this was a great movie. Probably the people don’t agree. But that movie showed to all the world one part of the United States that people didn’t know—the situation of the black people in the South, the effects of civil rights, the change of the society.